|Shariah Laws have put many foreign workers in prison, withheld their passports, and executed them for charges that have been unsubstiantiated. However, due to the lack of opportunity in many of their homeland countries, they risk their lives to provide for their families in the Middle East
|Foreign workers and their families continue to turn a blind eye to the risk of execution in the Middle East, particularly to the dangers of going to Saudi Arabia with its ‘macabre’ death penalty system.”They still go — either knowing the stiff laws in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East or being totally unaware,” David Soysa, director of the Migrant Workers Centre in Colombo, told IPS.”There is the ‘it won’t happen to me’ mentality,” Nimalka Fernando, a human rights activist, added.
On Oct. 14, Amnesty International issued its latest warning on Saudi Arabia where “poor foreign workers are literally paying with their lives when accused of capital crimes”.
“The death penalty is not only applied unfairly and in a secretive manner, it is discriminatory and used against those who are least able to access their rights. It is little more than a macabre lottery whose consequences, for many, are lethal,” Amnesty said.
Three days earlier, three Sri Lankans were sentenced by a Saudi court to public execution for allegedly killing a Yemeni national. Eight others, including two Sri Lankan women allegedly working for the Yemeni as prostitutes, were also sentenced to jail terms and floggings for being linked to the same crime.
All have the right of appeal — if they can raise the tens of thousands of dollars needed to hire a local law firm to take on their cases.
The average rate of executions in Saudi Arabia is currently two a week. Last year, Saudi Arabia executed more than 143 people, a highly disproportionate number of whom were foreigners.
On Oct. 6, the Human Rights Commission of Asia reported again on the three-year trauma of Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan housemaid sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia after the infant she was feeding tragically choked and died before help arrived.
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